Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-04-25
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

The Russian officials' refusal to acknowledge the status quo in Syria reflects a terrifying situation that may end in imposing many security, economic, and social burdens on them

Many, if not all, indications support the belief that this scenario has become the most likely until further notice. 

The U.S. has vetoed a resolution of the situation East of the Euphrates, and nobody knows when or how Washington will withdraw its military presence from this area. Damascus and its allies will be unable to execute a major military operation to restore control over this area as long as a single American soldier remains there, regardless of the threatening statements they issue now and again. 

Turkey has also issued a veto – in fact, a double veto – this time around: First, it refuses to negotiate over the fate of its Operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield [in Northern Syria] and second, it aims to cordon off the Idlib governorate and its environs, even after this area has become the largest base for terrorist groups since Afghanistan in the 1980s. 

The third veto comes from the U.S. and its allies, opposing the Syrian refugees' return, reconstruction, and reopening Arab relations towards Syria. This may lead to even more severe developments as dictated by the U.S.'s 'Caesar Syrian Protection Act', imposing a suffocating blockade whose initial stages have created the worst energy and fuel crisis the country has seen in eight years of war. 

On the frontlines, a deadlock, if not to say status quo, has come to dominate the Syrian arena. If it were not for isolated clashes now and then, we would say the guns had finally gone silent in Syria, and that the lines of contact had been drawn solidifying the division of shares and influence.

In contrast, Moscow is actively moving down the track of Syrian/Arab, Syrian/Turkish, and Syrian/Arab-Kurdish reconciliations. Moscow has no other choice; the dossiers are weighty and nobody can bear them or their implications alone, especially as they could encroach on the gains that Russia has achieved during the past four years since its military intervention in Syria. 

There is nothing new of note in the Arab-Syrian reconciliation dossier; 'progress is slow,' according to Moscow. There are positive signs, but not enough to confront U.S. intransigence or overcome Washington's red lines. Some Arabs have expressed a great willingness to open up to Damascus, but Washington and Brussels have both had an equal hand in hampering that track, if not foiling it entirely. 

As for the Turkish/Syrian track, Russia is not acting as sole mediator. Tehran has also entered the fray, seeking to use its good relations with both parties to motivate them to overcome the crisis in their bilateral relations. However, this track has also failed to yield any significant results, as Turkey refuses to accept the new facts imposed on the ground over the past two years.

Progress down the Qamishli-Damascus [Kurdish/regime] track has fared no better. The Kurds have high demands and aspirations, while the regime's perspective in dealing with the Kurdish dossier is inflexible, despite its desperate need to regain control over the oil-rich fields, at the very least to deal with the suffocating U.S. blockade. Here the U.S. veto rears its head again, while Moscow stands in an unenviable position between the two rival parties. 

Even the issue of Israeli air strikes on sites in Syria that Tel Aviv claims belongs to Iran and Hezbollah, does not seem to have an impending resolution. Moscow does not view giving Damascus balance-breaking weapons as an option, nor is it capable of persuading Israel's right-wing government to cease its repeated aggressions on Syria, placing Damascus and its allies, and Russia to a lesser extent, in an embarrassing situation.

Nobody can predict how long will pass before the Syrian crisis finds a resolution and the country succeeds in normalizing relations with its neighbors and the Arab community as a precondition and gateway to reconstruction, the refugees' return, and completing the political process.